By Katie Cooper EBS Contributor

Have you foraged for serviceberries yet? If not, it’s time to get out and go. Between the bears and the birds, it seems like the berries are only around for a couple weeks.

The berry has a somewhat dry, grainy texture, a mild sweet flavor, and could be mistaken for a blueberry. Before my friend took me serviceberry picking this summer, I thought the berry was more closely related to the raspberry. Which has me wondering: What was I snacking on last summer while hiking with my brother-in-law?



Where do I find them and what do I make with them? Kelly Canyon, northeast of Bozeman, might be a good place to start looking. After you’ve picked approximately 2 cups worth of berries, you’ll have enough to make one of my personal favorites: homemade serviceberry ice cream with toasted walnuts and dark chocolate chunks. It’s late August – the dog days of summer are here and this is a perfect way to cool off.

Not in the mood to dust off the ice cream maker? Eat serviceberries raw in a yogurt parfait, bake them in a pie or muffins, or garnish a salad. They can be used nearly any way you would eat blueberries.

What you’ll need (makes 1.5 quarts or six 1-cup servings)

3/4 cup dark chocolate chunks or chipsIMG_3996
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted
1 3/4 -2 cups serviceberries
2 cups whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 whole vanilla bean
5 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

How to make it

Warm a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add milk, cream, half of the sugar, salt, and the scraped vanilla bean and pod. Whisk the ingredients together and bring them just to a boil.

While that mixture is heating, whisk the egg yolks and remaining sugar together in a medium mixing bowl until the blend is pale and thick.

Once the milk/cream mixture has come to a boil, whisk about a third of it into the bowl with egg yolks and sugar. Then, whisk another third of the hot mixture into the egg yolk/sugar blend and then pour it into the remaining hot milk/cream mixture and stir constantly over low heat using a wooden spoon.

The custard is done when it’s thickened and coats the back of the wooden spoon (hint: If you swipe the back of the wooden spoon with your pinky finger, it should keep its form). This step should only take a minute or two – the mixture must not boil or the yolks will cook. Pour the ingredients through a fine mesh strainer and discard the vanilla bean pod and any bits of egg. Stir in the vanilla extract, bring to room temperature, cover and refrigerate overnight.

The ice cream maker bowl should be frozen. Pour the mixture into the frozen bowl and turn it on. Churn for about 20 minutes. The ice cream will be similar consistency to soft serve. Pour into a large glass-mixing bowl and swirl in chocolate chunks, walnuts and serviceberries. Freeze for about 2 hours if you prefer hard ice cream and remove 15 minutes before serving.

Note: For this recipe, at least a 1.5-quart ice cream maker is needed.

Katie Cooper is a food stylist and photographer who gardens and cooks from her country home outside of Willow Creek. More recipes can be found on her blog, which aims to inspire others to cook using seasonal ingredients grown in backyard gardens or from local farmers and ranchers we know and trust.